Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Put Away the White Patent Leather Shoes

Before the post-prandial stupor completely overtakes me, allow me to tell you about yesterday's picnic at B's house. The setting: a back yard (really, a brick patio, surrounded by lots of flower and vegetable plants, including a row of sunflowers in bloom along the south fence) in a quiet neighborhood, with sun all afternoon and temperatures in the low 80s. We started off with S's guacamole, which rocked; he bragged about his guacamole, and, it turns out, rightly so. S himself was a bit crispy, given his sojourning until 5 am. Then: sliced heirloom tomatoes from the farmers' market, topped with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella (both also from market) and a little salt and balsamic vinegar. This carried us through until 4:30 or so, when B started the corn (which J had detassled and which had been soaking for awhile) on the grill; B eventually added the chicken breasts (marinated in lime juice) and the venison (which had had garlic on top of it for a couple of hours). I'd also brought some caramelized onions, and B had brought a salad that featured edamame (I skipped the salad, given the presence of peppers, but it looked good). For dessert: rounds of monkey bread, topped with peaches that had been sauteed in butter, ginger, and pear juice, and then a sauce made with that saute liquid plus a little cream. Beer was plentiful (I alternated beer with water, given that 4 am wakeup call), conversation was entertaining, and the various slouching postures exhibited by the participants was impressive. We could only have been more comfortable if we'd had hammocks, but they would have required more effort to get out of and into, and effort was not really on the agenda yesterday.

Today we started the chocolate portion of the program, plus we switched kitchens, chefs, and partners. My partner is great--she's extremely talented at this stuff, and she's so organized she makes me look unorganized. The kitchen is a lot smaller than the other kitchen, and the tables are too small and too close together--that is going to get on my last nerve for the next four months. Chef Bob has his own quirks--every chef does, I suspect. In that regard, it's helpful to switch chefs--no two kitchens are going to be the same, and this is a way to get used to that notion. We started off with a couple of videos about chocolate, then we caramelized some almonds and some hazelnuts and made some almond nougatine. We were supposed to temper some chocolate, but we didn't get to it today. We're apparently getting our exam results from Chef Fred tomorrow, too; I'm actually looking forward to that, because honest critiques are extremely useful.

Also tomorrow I might find out what my prospects are for receiving paychecks for the foreseeable future. Cross your fingers. C and I have realized that there are three conditions to our success over the next six months or so: His company has to reimburse us (me) for his travel over the past few months; we have to stay within our budget; and I have to continue to get paid. Tomorrow's update is unlikely to be all that informative, given my past experience with these things, but we'll see.

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1:22 AM  
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11:39 PM  

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